Faculty 360 | Phillip Myer


Faculty 360 is an all-around look at a UT AgResearch faculty member. In this issue we feature Phillip Myer, assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science. Myer joined UTIA in July 2015. His research primarily focuses on biological mechanisms explaining differences in feed efficiency in beef cattle and rumen microbiology. Myer received his PhD in microbiology from Purdue University in 2013. He is a native of Danville, Illinois. In his spare time, Myer enjoys playing piano and cello, as well as hiking and the outdoors with his loving wife.

A life experience that connected me with my career choice was being able to observe production agriculture, and my field, throughout the U.S. Contrasting and comparing agricultural systems from Indiana, to Nebraska, and finally Tennessee has allowed me to gain better insight into my research and be a more effective educator.

A favorite part of my job is working with students to further their education and their unique life experiences. As educators, we are of few people that are granted the joy of seeing students make daily connections and strides in education. We get to convey and observe how taught concepts become an integral part of how the student perceives the world. Whether that is done in lecture, office hours, small discussions, designing experiments, or analyzing data; working through a problem and developing critical thinking skills is where the student develops and the scientist appears. Everyone benefits from this result, and I find it greatly rewarding.

Something that gets my brain going is sitting in on lectures and seminars. It is always interesting to gain an understanding of new research, the research of colleagues, and research undertaken by our graduate students. But it also gets my brain going because I start to think of other new and/or different ways to approach my own research. We are always learning.

When I’m not at work, I like to extend my creativity at home. I spend a lot of time woodworking or playing piano, cello, and guitar. On the athletic side, my wife and I were cheerleaders at Purdue University, and we still actively practice those skills.

In the overall field of animal science, I believe the most pressing issue is efficiency. Although this term is vague, and applies to many fields of study within animal science, it is defined by the need to sustainably feed more than 9 billion people by the year 2050. Whether that’s by producing more pounds of animal protein with less, or by increasing reproductive efficiency, the efforts of animal scientists around the globe are driven by this concern.

If you raided my bookshelf, you’d find books related to ruminant microbiology, ruminant nutrition, and books to which I’ve contributed chapters. However, my collection is scattered with small, interesting books that are a great and educational read. These include books such as “Beginnings, Blunders, and Breakthroughs in Science” by Surendra Verma, which recounts the eureka moments, serendipities, and plain errors that have defined science over the past 2 millennia.

Something that excites me about being part of the UTIA community is its growth and impact. It’s great to be part of an academic community dedicated to education, research, and Tennessee. The growing population of students, faculty, and quality research has continued to make the UTIA a bastion of agricultural ingenuity in the Southeast and the U.S.